Inter Miami boss Phil Neville is looking forward to crossing paths with former Manchester United team-mate as his side prepare to make the trip to face D.C United in MLS this weekend.
The Florida outfit will head north on the back of a more successful sophomore season under the ex-Red Devils star – but now will see their coach have the chance to cross wits with another English legend of the game.
Both Neville and Rooney were key faces during the halcyon days of Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure in charge at Old Trafford, and speaking ahead of the match, the former has reflected on his own pathway into coaching, as well as the route taken by his former teammate.
“It’s always difficult when you’re a player to envisage who’s going to go into management and who’s not,” Neville stated. “But as the years got further on, I felt my pathway was always to go into coaching.
“As you saw Wayne develop into an incredible leader, you saw that leadership would eventually make him stay in coaching. He loves football, you see the players that love football, that football is their life, that they have an obsession with football. Wayne was that person.
“As you get older, you start seeing different qualities in terms of the way that they speak in the dressing room, the way that they help the younger players. He had all those qualities, and now he will be using them in management.”
Rooney meanwhile was critical of his side following a defeat to Sporting Kansas City in the week, leaving his side rooted further to the foot of the Eastern Conference.
“The intensity wasn’t high enough,” he added. “Getting to the ball wasn’t good enough. The whole game really we were flat. We didn’t deserve anything out of the game, and the performance wasn’t good enough. It’s disappointing.”
“I don’t think there were moments where we had any control of the game. I want my team to play. I want my team to enjoy the ball and to try and make it difficult for the opposition. We didn’t do that at all. We lacked composure. We lacked bravery.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
D.C. United – Ola Kamara
The veteran Norwegian has been one of United’s more impressive players amid a rotten season this term. With nine goals, he sits second on the club’s leaderboard for the campaign.
Miami – Gonzalo Higuain
The Argentine has come alive this campaign with Florida. He has a dozen goals to his name, making him their strongest asset in front of the net.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– D.C. United is unbeaten in four all-time meetings with Inter Miami (W3 D1), though the Herons got their first point against D.C. in a 1-1 draw in Miami on May 14. The two meetings in D.C. were each won by United by a one-goal margin.
– D.C. United’s 3-0 defeat at Sporting Kansas City was its sixth loss of the year by at least three goals, the most three-goal losses in MLS this season. This is the first time in club history that D.C. has lost six games by three or more goals.
– Inter Miami’s 2-1 win over Columbus on Tuesday was its ninth win in its last 12 home matches (D2 L1). Miami has recorded nearly the exact inverse record in its last 12 away matches, losing eight of those matches (W1 D3).
– D.C. United’s 3-0 loss on Tuesday was its league-leading 15th match without a goal this season. This is the eighth time in MLS history a team has failed to score in at least 15 matches in a single regular season with D.C. accounting for half of those (2010, 2013, 2017).
– Gonzalo Higuain has scored Inter Miami’s last four goals, including both against the Crew on Tuesday. Higuain has scored eight times since July 30, only MVP candidates Hany Mukhtar (10) and Daniel Gazdag (9) have more in that time.